January 31, 2011 (Interviews with President are the highlight of a missionaries life!)
Life is wonderful! Investigators are showing up and opportunities are happening.. just wonderful! haha It is quite funny to me how similar this shotgunning experience is to the last one... not much to go off with, but God provides :) He always does! Dad asked a few statistics about the Zone, Our Zone is the Helsinki Zone and consists of 3 district which each have between 6-8 missionaries so like 22ish missionaries. Pretty small zone, but Finland only has 60 or so missionaries, so it can't be too too big. What were the statistics like in Germany? Korea? and France? I'll bet there were more missionaries, especially considering that Finland area wise is way bigger than all of those countries.
This week was really exciting and eye opening. We were at a member's house with our ward mission leader and she shared a really cool story. I'll share as much of it as I remember. Her name is sister Blund and she shared here conversion story. She met the missionaries on the train from Helsinki to Turku and they talked the entire time. They gave her a pamphlet and she read it and look sensed how family centered the message was, she felt bad because she was recently divorced. She kind of just put the whole thing in the back of her mind and forgot what she felt. Then a few years later the missionaries had a feeling they had to go to this house (tuttu) and they talked and they arranged a time to meet. They meet and and she was doing very well, but still didn't feel sure about it. She read a talk by (then) Elder Monson and that is what did it. She was baptized and so was her 2 children who were 13 and 10 years old. Then, President Monson came to finland to give a talk in Haaga. She met him there and had a chance to talk and share her story about her conversion and how his talked helped her. President monson turned to one of the apostles and said "now I know why I came to Finland" He asked if she would write the story down and then the started writting eachother. Pretty cool!
This week we had splits with the assistants (elder Peterson and Horne from my MTC group) Elder Peterson shared a pretty incredible talk by Hugh B. Brown entitled "the currant bush". The main idea was that God is in charge and He knows how to help us become the celestial beings we are capable of becoming. The punch line, so to say, is "If I let you grow the way you want you will never amount to anything" That sounds pretty harsh... but in the talk it is really really good... In fact I am going to copy it into this email, because the message is so... Healing in a way. Skip the next 11 paragraphs to edit out the story!
I was living up in Canada. I had purchased a farm. It was run-down. I went out one morning and saw a currant bush. It had grown up over six feet high. It was going all to wood. There were no blossoms and no currants. I was raised on a fruit farm in Salt Lake before we went to Canada, and I knew what ought to happen to that currant bush. So I got some pruning shears and clipped it back until there was nothing left but stumps. It was just coming daylight, and I thought I saw on top of each of these little stumps what appeared to be a tear, and I thought the currant bush was crying. I was kind of simpleminded (and I haven’t entirely gotten over it), and I looked at it and smiled and said, “What are you crying about?” You know, I thought I heard that currant bush say this:
“How could you do this to me? I was making such wonderful growth. I was almost as big as the shade tree and the fruit tree that are inside the fence, and now you have cut me down. Every plant in the garden will look down on me because I didn’t make what I should have made. How could you do this to me? I thought you were the gardener here.”
That’s what I thought I heard the currant bush say, and I thought it so much that I answered. I said, “Look, little currant bush, I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be. I didn’t intend you to be a fruit tree or a shade tree. I want you to be a currant bush, and someday, little currant bush, when you are laden with fruit, you are going to say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for loving me enough to cut me down. Thank you, Mr. Gardener.’”
Years passed, and I found myself in England. I was in command of a cavalry unit in the Canadian Army. I held the rank of field officer in the British Canadian Army. I was proud of my position. And there was an opportunity for me to become a general. I had taken all the examinations. I had the seniority. The one man between me and the office of general in the British Army became a casualty, and I received a telegram from London. It said: “Be in my office tomorrow morning at 10:00,” signed by General Turner.
I went up to London. I walked smartly into the office of the general, and I saluted him smartly, and he gave me the same kind of a salute a senior officer usually gives—a sort of “Get out of the way, worm!” He said, “Sit down, Brown.” Then he said, “I’m sorry I cannot make the appointment. You are entitled to it. You have passed all the examinations. You have the seniority. You’ve been a good officer, but I can’t make the appointment. You are to return to Canada and become a training officer and a transport officer.” That for which I had been hoping and praying for 10 years suddenly slipped out of my fingers.
Then he went into the other room to answer the telephone, and on his desk, I saw my personal history sheet. Right across the bottom of it was written, “THIS MAN IS A MORMON.” We were not very well liked in those days. When I saw that, I knew why I had not been appointed. He came back and said, “That’s all, Brown.” I saluted him again, but not quite as smartly, and went out.
I got on the train and started back to my town, 120 miles away, with a broken heart, with bitterness in my soul. And every click of the wheels on the rails seemed to say, “You are a failure.” When I got to my tent, I was so bitter that I threw my cap on the cot. I clenched my fists, and I shook them at heaven. I said, “How could you do this to me, God? I have done everything I could do to measure up. There is nothing that I could have done—that I should have done—that I haven’t done. How could you do this to me?” I was as bitter as gall.
And then I heard a voice, and I recognized the tone of this voice. It was my own voice, and the voice said, “I am the gardener here. I know what I want you to do.” The bitterness went out of my soul, and I fell on my knees by the cot to ask forgiveness for my ungratefulness and my bitterness. While kneeling there I heard a song being sung in an adjoining tent. A number of Mormon boys met regularly every Tuesday night. I usually met with them. We would sit on the floor and have Mutual. As I was kneeling there, praying for forgiveness, I heard their singing:
“But if, by a still, small voice he calls
To paths that I do not know,
I’ll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in thine:
I’ll go where you want me to go.”
(Hymns, no. 270)
I arose from my knees a humble man. And now, almost 50 years later, I look up to Him and say, “Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for cutting me down, for loving me enough to hurt me.” I see now that it was wise that I should not become a general at that time, because if I had I would have been senior officer of all western Canada, with a lifelong, handsome salary, a place to live, and a pension, but I would have raised my six daughters and two sons in army barracks. They would no doubt have married out of the Church, and I think I would not have amounted to anything. I haven’t amounted to very much as it is, but I have done better than I would have done if the Lord had let me go the way I wanted to go.
Many of you are going to have very difficult experiences: disappointment, heartbreak, bereavement, defeat. You are going to be tested and tried. I just want you to know that if you don’t get what you think you ought to get, remember, God is the gardener here. He knows what He wants you to be. Submit yourselves to His will. Be worthy of His blessings, and you will get His blessings.
Ok now this is me (like the Elder Nielsen me) talking: This talk helps me understand a little why we go through trials. It is also wonderful to remember that there was a reason we shouted for Joy at the thought to come to this earth. It was the death, heart ache, sorrow, pains, and temptation that made us shout for joy, but it was the possiblilty to receive all that the father has! He loves us! That is why we are here, Don't forget that!
President brown shared a wonderful thing in his email this past week, I'm sure kyle might have to share what the large group meetings are so you can understand that it is " kind of a big deal" as some might say ;) This is what president said: During district meetings this past week I received a text message from a missionary here in Finland whose cousin is currently in the MTC. The message says this, “I received a letter from my cousin who is in the MTC and who reports that in the large group meetings there, they use Finland as THE example of growth and success and turning things around with faith and hard work.” Wow! We will spend time in district meeting discussing the statistics from the new Finland Helsinki Mission Effectiveness Report that came from the Missionary Department a couple of weeks ago, but I thought you would like to hear a forerunner witness from the MTC through this text message. I think it proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that we have made great progress in “moving the work, not just tending it,”
YAY For miracles!
That is all I have to say this week, I hope all 100 of my thoughts are understandable :) Happy birthday Ryan... Remeber that God is the gardener and he knows what he is doing with everysingle soul... He wants our eternal life and salvation. Hey is natalie taking fat rocky on walks often? haha if not tell her that would be the greatest thing she could do to help someone 10,000 miles from a dog who might have brain damage from a sledge hammer... and probably has forgotten me by now :) lol
I love you all and love how you handle these "prunning moments" with such faith and unwearingness! Keep it up and we "shall see Him as he is, for we shall be like Him" :)